Staying motivated; fighting depression

Consultants often work from home and operate as sole proprietors. And, while working at home has its perks, running a home business can sometimes be challenging. Many consultants report feeling isolated and depressed.
 
Take the case of Marthe, a translation consultant who has a disability related to her mood (expired Government of Canada link). Marthe has supported herself as a self-employed translator for 25 years. Over the years, she has learned to deal better with the stress from depression, but she still has very challenging times. For the most part, she struggles with the uncertainty of self-employment and sometimes cannot work or can work only for short periods

Self-employed people, especially lawyers, often report depression and mental health issues. As the article in the previous link notes, law — like other consulting jobs — may entail long hours, a focus on billable work, workaholism, perfectionism, competition, and other stressful factors. Working alone — or as part of a high-stress team — can be difficult for a consultant to manage.

Sometimes, working at home can leave consultants in a rut. Whereas office workers often work in teams, have face-to-face contact with clients and can feel they’re part of a larger organization, consultants can sometimes feel isolated. But consulting is hardly tantamount to isolation and depression. Successful consultants recognize that all occupations have their drawbacks and they treat isolation as an obstacle to be managed.

So how can consultants stay motivated and maintain good mental health?

  • Ask for help. If you think you even might have a few of the symptoms of  depression, see a doctor, counsellor, psychologist or other qualified help.
  • Network. Avoid feeling isolated by meeting other consultants, colleagues, clients or past co-workers during the week. A few lunch dates and business events during the week can help you feel connected to the outside world — while providing an opportunity to build your business.
  • Connect with other consultants. Through networking and referrals, build relationships with other consultants and self-employed people. By working with other consultants, you can achieve a feeling of comradery, celebrate mutual accomplishments, and at least go out for lunch!
  • Brag a little. Write articles (guest blog for Consultant Journal!), make comments on websites, send emails to contacts, call up people you know – tell them what you’ve been up to. As long as you don’t go over the top, most people will be pleased to hear about your recent successes.
  • Celebrate successes. Take yourself to lunch. Buy a CD. Eat some cake. Pin a thank you card to the wall. Save kudo emails. Do something to reward yourself for your successes – even the small ones.
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself. Starting up a consulting business involves many challenges. Cut yourself a little slack and recognize that many people dream of becoming consultants but never actually find the courage to do it.

And, remember, being a consultant doesn’t mean you have to be depressed. Many consultants are thrilled with their situations. So, if you find yourself in a rut, get help and you’ll soon find things are looking up. As I mentioned recently, consulting often involves feast or famine work cycles.

Staying motivated; fighting depression

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Darren NZ says:

Thanks. that was helpful and refreshing to know that other people are or have experience the same feelings. Working alone or going on your own in business is tough as i have found it challenging. The mood cycles you go through appears to be close to a menstual cycle. Having to balance the things that need to be done for your business which do not bring in money with having to try and generate money and earn money at the same time with the having to at the same time balance and keep in tact a relationship and having to somehow find the money to pay the ongoing monthly living costs and mortgage costs.. Mood swings and short tempermant is what i have recently been experiencing… snapping at the partner and getting boared with things and also frustrated with not being able to do more and upsetting the natural balance of things in your household… I am a highly motivated person but some how recently working from home has had a negative impact on me almost sending me over the edge…I am slowly learning to find the balance and control those mix of emotions ansd it is so nice to find help and support around you when you can somehow drop to your lowest. Of course no one would expect that the happiest and most successfull people are the ones that rough it the most and have there lowest point as well… i have recently found that embracing help around you somehow takes the edge of things for you even though some of us are too proud and dignified to admit it. I remember one wise words from my accountant was to make sure that you are conscious of the effects that running your own business can have on a relationship with the pressures and ups and downs. Its a real test in my view of how powerful and strong a relationship is. But i am learning that no matter how powerful that can be stress and depresssion can also bring down a good thing.. I am still trying to learn how to find that balance 4 yrs on after being in business and finding how you can still keep that spark alight … success is not without failure and hard work and scarifice…